About United By Idea, a platform for volunteers supported by the UN

About United By Idea, a platform for volunteers supported by the UN

Ukrainian volunteering is a unique phenomenon. It's not a big secret that Ukrainians are creeative and brave nation. The war revealed the true face of Ukrainians - when trouble comes, we get together ready to fight side by side. Ukrainian volunteerism has the same powerful character as nation itself. Not everyone can get in a truck and deliver aid to hot spots, but almost everyone donates funds. Almost 17 million USD for the three combat aerial vehicles, Bayraktars where raised just in three days by Ukrainians. A unique phenomenon that surprises and motivates the whole world.

Volunteering at JEVERA is a common thing. The team has always been socially active and remains today. And the company supports them. A significant part of our team stayed in Chernihiv when the shelling began - some joined the ranks of the Territorial Defence Unit, and others delved into volunteering and joined with public organizations for the continuous information exchange and the development of efficient processes. They saw with their own eyes the conditions in which volunteers have to work, when there is sometimes no Internet or even mobile connection available, or when it is urgently necessary to find funding for a specific request.

Volunteering activity of our employees led to the understanding of its complexities. It transformed into a desire to create a software solution that optimizes the processes of work on the search and delivery of humanitarian aid, makes it flexible and transparent, and frees volunteers from the need to work in several messengers simultaneously.

The history of the platform that united NGOs and business

Julia Dayneko, the COO of JEVERA, was one of those who did not leave Chernihiv from the first days of the war and was involved in the city's volunteer movement. Julia became, so to say, a proxy through which we learned about the NGO "League of Business and Professional Women of Ukraine" and their idea to create software that would improve the working conditions of volunteers.

The NGO was looking for a partner to develop a platform that would become the volunteer's digital workplace and solve many problems related to the search for donors, suppliers, logisticians, etc., to build a transparent process of providing humanitarian aid. Earlier, the NGO received support from the UN within the organization's project "STRENGTHENING MSME BUSINESS MEMBERSHIP ORGANIZATIONS IN UKRAINE: PHASE II", but they needed to find a partner for technical implementation. This is how the idea of ​​the software product United By Idea (UBI) arose.

What are we trying to transform?

The idea of ​​the project is to create a tool that will replace a notepad, Excel sheets, Telegram messenger, and several other apps, make finding and delivering aid transparent, and prevent fraud. These are the main bottlenecks that need to be transformed. UBI aims to solve the following problems:

  • Develop a flexible approach to the selection of suppliers and donors;
  • Build transparent business processes;
  • Deliver aid as quickly as possible;
  • Minimize bureaucracy.

Using the system, volunteers and donors must understand:

  • what goods are being delivered, by and to whom; 
  • when delivery is expected to arrive, taking into account the conditions of active hostilities;
  • who is involved in the process; 
  • what papers support the cargo. All this information should be only a few clicks away.

As of today, most of the functionality is already delivered and is being tested by "League" employees and their colleagues from other organizations and associations. Together with volunteers, our team conducted a demo of the system for representatives of the Chernihiv Regional State Administration. Negotiations are underway to scale up the project and involve the authorities in the use and development of the system.

The project motivates us to go beyond the usual comfort zone — we started developing the platform's mobile application on our own. We decided to independently cover that expertise that until today was not used in commercial projects.

United By Idea is about flexibility

In today's rough VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous) world, there is a need for flexibility to adapt to external changes. UBI is created taking into account the high volatility of crisis conditions, when it is necessary to act quickly, transform the process on the go and change the individuals involved. The system allows you to quickly find the needed goods, donors, and carriers and make changes to requests already in progress. Even if the aid is already on the way, you can change the route or warehouse at point B, for example. All participants of the process will be notified about the changes made. But that is not the only realization of the system's flexibility.

JEVERA is a business, so we plan to continue to develop the platform so that UBI becomes helpful for everyone dealing with procurement, logistics, and freight. The supply chain and its imperfection is businesses' headache, especially in times of crisis, when force majeure occurs and a counterparty vanishes from the market, a vehicle breaks down, the manufacturer neglects deadlines, etc. The platform can be configured and adjusted to individual business processes relatively quickly because it is being developed on a ready-made open-source framework and a middle-level Java developer is enough for adaptation.

A look into the future

The registration and user management module is ready. United By Idea is already being tested by real users: NGOs, foundations, and business associations. At the end of June, the development of the most tricky logistics module was completed. Currently, the team is integrating the logistics module into the warehouse accounting mobile application. At the same time, efforts are being made to attract new users and familiarize representatives of local authorities with the product and its potential.

Individually, I would like to note the level of motivation of the JEVERA team working on development. It is impressive. The team devoted almost all their free time to the project because they have experienced all the difficulties of volunteer work and had the opportunity to communicate with the platform's end-users directly. They seek to help those who help others.